Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  October 30, 2013 10:00pm-12:01am EDT

10:00 pm
delaware and we have record rates of income inequality and we have to be strong. ..
10:01 pm
frankly, most importantly, we can all agree coming to some agreement in a reasonable time frame is probably the most important thing this committee can do to help grow our economy. and doing it on a timeline that allows the appropriation committee to deliver a result without shutting down the government or putting it at any risk is about the best thing we can do. i will agree we can't simply grow our way out of our problem. we have to address the driver of our debt and deficit. we have to don't reduce our deficits which we've cut in half over the last four years. if we don't, interest intense is a very real threat for crowding out both public and private investment in education r&d and infrastructure.
10:02 pm
over the last three years we've made real strides in reducing our deficit. we saved more than $12.5 billion. that's been unbalanced. about 70% has been from spending cut. 30% from revenue. we need to do more but we have do it, i believe, in a balanced way. we've heard from senators about the need to modernize the tax code and move toward real tax reform. while the committee can't get it done. we can move in that direction in a substantial way. making a modest cut of only 5% of the trillion dollars a year we spend through the tax code would make huge dent in the deficit. lastly, we have to don't make some reduction in direct spending. although i know that's the area taken the hardest hit. i'll insist on doing in a way that put a circle of production around around the most vulnerable and honoring our promises to seniors, veterans, and about to retirement to protect them from cuts. chairman rhode island i know,
10:03 pm
chairman muir ray. i'm glad we have come together. we need focus not on the area of disagreement but priority we share. reducing the deficit, and ensuring our long-term prosperity. thank you. >> thank you. i've learn something. i know, you refer to yourself as delaware begans. senator ayotte. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you and thank chairman murray for your leadership and everyone at the table who is coming here. i think in a spirit of good faith so we can resolve this for a nation and i represent granite staters. i can tell you they're not happy when you think about where we are. we reached a milestone that none of us are proud of recently with $17 trillion of debt for our nation. i'm blessed to be the mother of two children. a of-year-old and 9-year-old. it's not just words when we think about what is it that we
10:04 pm
are passing on to the next generation? it's those of us who are in a position around the table to address the fiscal challenges facing our nation. kick the can down the road again and don't get things done to address those challenges. i would like to say that the debt is really a function of both parties because it is. it took democrats and republicans to get us in $17 trillion of debt. we added $4.9 trillion to the debt during president bush's eight years in office. since the president obama has been in office we've added $6.4 trillion to the debt. so the truth is, it is going take two partieses to get us out of the mess. the american people expect us to do work together do it. what are the big challenges we face? i think my colleague senator graham talked about them. one is medicare is going bankrupt in 2026, social security goes bankrupt in 2033.
10:05 pm
the mandatory spending piece of what we spend our dollars on is two-thirds of federal spending. cbo's long-term outlook in the next 25 years looks worse for our nation. not better. and in fact, those important programs i just talked about mandatory spending, entitlement program. they're going squeeze out the discretion snare priorities we also care about defense fracture and education. if fell madly we don't take on the larger challenges then the people relying open the program we're not doing a service to them. it they are important for our nation. and they are important to i know many of my constituents and others who are relying on them for a secure retirement and future. my home is that we can lay a foundation for a larger fiscal agreement for the country as my
10:06 pm
colleague talked about. because if we don't get at the underlying fiscal challenges, then we're going continue to be where we are today. one thing i hope we can agree on islet not kick the can down the road again. sis fiscal year 2007 we've had 16 continuing redd resolution. think about it short term funding pieces anyone who interacts with the government has no certainty in the private sector in term behalf we're going do next. no one run a business this way, no one run a family this way. i hope in a minimum around the table we can agree to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year and commit to ourselves that there won't be anymore government shut downs. i commend my colleague senator portman for the end government shut down act. i'm also a cosponsor of that. shame on us, if we don't come up with a funding measure until the end of thephysial --
10:07 pm
fiscal year and end the government by crisis. my constituents are tired of. i'm sure everyone hears the same thing from their constituent. finally, if you look at the budget control act, i didn't vote for the budget control act. the reason for that was because it didn't deal with the underlying long-term drivers of our debt. and i hope that we do get at the larger fiscal agreement for the country. that said, can $17 trillion in debt, the savings we're realizing from the budget control act should not be ignore, should not be blown off. are there smarter ways we can address spending? absolutely. the budget control act takes the savings out of about a third of federal spend. instead of looking at the big picture and challenges we face. i had the chance to meet with general oheddier know this morning. i serve on the armed service
10:08 pm
committee. the chief of the staff of the army. we have two brigades prepared right now. it's something we should care about in the kyi. iom hoping question come to some ways to do it in a smarter fashion. number one, through dealing waste, fraud, and abuse. how many g ark o reports have we seen around the table on dupelative programs that have never been addressed. in addition to that, the president proposed some spending reduck for mandatory savings. let see if we can work together to do it in a smarter way. make sure our nation can be defended and also famililet not kick the can down the road. i staid a third time. let show the american people we can get something done on their behalf and that we end government by crisis. we get out of our trenches on both sides of the aisle and get
10:09 pm
done for the american people. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. next from a wisconsin. senator baldwin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it's nice to have a reunion with some of my former colleagues, i also want to recognize the leadership of chairman murray. while i've heard some real note of agreement including the obvious the american people are sick and tired. they're exhausted of our governing from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis. we know their faith in us has been badly eroded. but one thing we have heard echoed around this table today, and heartened by that we need a pass a tbhawjt grows our economy. so it's time to do just that. it's time for both parties to work together to find the common ground and move a responsible budget tbhard invests in economic growth. as we begin this budget
10:10 pm
conference, i think it's important that we acknowledge what has been done so far. in the past three years, significant progress has been made in achieving $2.5 electrical in bipartisan deficit reduction measures. this is more than halfway to a $4 trillion target that was laid out by bipartisan fiscal commissions like the simpson bowls commission. while we need to do more, we must do it in a they is balanced and doesn't put up a roadblock for moving our economic recovery forward. quite frankly, the biggest roadblock -- have come from the broken politic of the city. the government shut down cost our economy more than 120,000 jobs in october alone. and continue continued sequester cuts are predicted to cost as many as $1.6 million jobs next year if kept in effect.
10:11 pm
we have the change in this conference to leave that damaging path. a new path is before us. and the american people expect us to take it together. the middle class families and small businesses that are working so hard to move our economic recovery forward deserve to have both parties in washington working across party lines. to pass a bipartisan budget that creates jobs and grow our economy. we're have to work together. the common refrain we often hear in washington is republican won't yield on any revenues and democrats won't yield on any changes to program like medicare and medicaid. to be clear, the senate democratic budget includes revenues from cutting tax expenditure and closing tax loopholes. it also includes smart and targeted spending cuts and it
10:12 pm
includes $275 billion in entitlement savings. achieved without cutting medicare benefits that seniors have earned and relied upon. the house republican budget has significant cut to benefits and provides economic security to millions of -- excuse me, house republican budget has significant cuts to medicare benefits. those are the very wefts that provide economic security to millions of middle class families and it has zero dollars of revenues which could be used to invest in the essential pillars of economic growth like education, work force readiness, science, research, and innovation. i believe there are significant savings that can be achieved in our health care system without comprising the quality of care
10:13 pm
and in fact, while improving the quality of care. and without slashing benefits that are senior -- our seniors have worked so hard for and earned. have estimated that we could save $1 trillion per year without affecting health care outcome. and by enacting smart, targeted health care delivery reform. the institute of medicine estimated this number could be $7 50 billion. no matter what the exact figure or proposal these are impressive savings that trenten our nation's health care system without shifting cost and burdens to senior and our states. in addition, these reforms have the added benefit of improving quality outcomes within the health care system. so before we continue to obsessively put benefit cut on the table, i would hope that we
10:14 pm
can begin a dialogue about finding solutions that produce health care cost savings. and i'm confident if both parties in washington do what the people do every day in the state of wisconsin, put progress ahead of politics question break the destructive pattern and we can make that progress. >> thank you. >> thank you. mr. chairman. and madam chairwoman. let me agree with senator baldwin. we need to find solution. we need to show the american people we are problem solvers. senator johnson's charts were painful, but they make the point that has been made over and over today that is we have a debt crisis and still headed in the wrong direction. as senator session began, the deficit is down but down on a temporary basis. it will soon rise again to $1
10:15 pm
trillion per year. we are in a weak recovery. and we have not turned a corner we shouldn't approach this budget as if we have turned the corner. nobody likes sequestration i don't like sequestration but i can live with. indead under sequestration discretionary spending begins to rise after fiscal year 2015. it's not ideal. it's not the best. but it is the law. without replacing it with better savings, we must keep sequestration. now senator warner, i will support additional revenues, but as chairman ryan pointed out, and senator enzi made clear, those additional revenues must come through economic growth. ic question do that. i'm equally certain that
10:16 pm
republicans in congress will not support tax increases. either directly or indirectly. through the front door on the back door. asking american workers to send more of their paychecks to washington will hurt growth, and similarly taking more tax dollars from job creators will result in fewer jobs. i agree exactly with what senator grassley said. the 600 billion tax hike that came with fiscal cliff legislation another the last year was a tax hike. we have gotten our tax hike and we will not support another one. let explore representative cole's idea of an expedited tax reform process to get us the pro
10:17 pm
growth tax policies that will give us the additional revenue we need. and lastly, my colleagues, let's explore enaking the mandatory savings contained president obama's own budget. president obama has outlined budget savings in our entitlement perhaps that were courageous, they were difficult, but they don't cut benefits. these proposals don't cut social security. they do not cut medicaid. no one is suggesting as has been alluded or been suggested by some members of this conference committee that there's a proposal to slash benefits or cut benefits. all we're talking about and the president is talking about in his mandatory proposed in the
10:18 pm
own budget is slowing the growth rate of the very important programs to save our nation from a fiscal and debt crisis and to save these very valuable programs. i think those are the sweet spots. tax reform to give us economic growth and savings in the growth rate of our mandatory programs. i hope we can rise to the e occasion and be problem solvers for the american people. >> thank you. senator cain. >> thank you, chairman ryan and chairwoman murray. it's good to be with colleagues on this. there's a lot of things we want to co. i want to confound all the cynics that have low expectations of us. there's been years of budgetary dysfunction and there hasn't been a budget conference in a divided congress since 1986. so we start with a low expectations bar and i think we should confound cynics, the budgetary dysfunction has hurt
10:19 pm
us dramatically in virginia, the combination of shut down and sequester -- hurting defense and other key priority. we feel it and i know you do. in the spirit of comprise, i wanted to cuss on four areas i think we are closer together than we might think as an encouragement to finding comprise. first, maybe the most controversial thing i'll say is this. we should acknowledge the 2014 budget numbers aren't that different. and that sound -- the senate sets discretionary spending that's a lot of dollars. the federal budget is $3.6 trillion. the difference about 2 and a half percent. i think you argued it's smaller because the republicans would argue the senate number might be artificially high we assumed there would be no continue situation of sequestration. we assume it's artificially low.
10:20 pm
you can't write appropriation bill to match the number. i think the real difference between the two budget in 2014 is about 1.5%. i can't believe that we're going midst an opportunity to do something right for the nation, for our economy because we can't close a defense in 2014 of 1.5%. we're closer than we might think in 2014. number two, this has been covered a lot. we should agree that growing the economy should be the primary goal. the measure test of a successful budget isn't ink on the page. it's not even gdp to debt ratio. it's weather a government spending plan help produce a growing economy where people in all regions and all stage of life can have an economic success. that's with a we try do in the senate budget. i look forward to more meetings with house con free to see how it accomplishes economic growth. that should be the goal. third we recognize that sequester is a bad idea. senator warner talked about this. those vote forked the bill said
10:21 pm
don't worry about it we'll never get there because we'll make a deal. those who voted against because scwesser is a bad idea. so everybody agreed at the time it was a bad idea. and now in the senate, senate armed services bipartisan said we need to replace it. house armed services bipartisan said we need to replace it. so if everybody thought it was a bad idea at the time, earve still think it's a bad idea. there no excuse for finding a better path forward. i hear some people talking we can't do anything about it. that's a cop out. we should be able to fix it. fourth, we all want to replace sequester with reductions in spending that senates made significant concession to the house on this. we do not propose increasing any tax rates. we don't. we think you are right 0 you need to make targeted cuts in spend in the discretionary side. we put in targeted cuts in spending on the mandatory side. we believe strongly as others said we have to be willing to
10:22 pm
look at the tax expenditure. they have to be reigned -- chairman ryan, speaker boehner, martin -- all have said we should do this. why wouldn't we reform medicare effect -- affabilitying millions of senior and not consider scaling back tax breaks on exxonmobil. we ought to be willing to look at the tax expenditure. if we just reduce the tax expenditure and the budget by 5 or 6% it would create enough revenued on the spending side question do significant work to replace sequester and draw our deficit down.
10:23 pm
always passed very different budget. we found comprise that kept our government open and kept us with a aaa bond rating and other states do the same. my last question is this. if by state legislature all oprah winfrey the united states can do this year in year out then why can't we? we haven't done a budget conference in true regular budget order in many years. isn't it an embarrassment that we here should resolve to put behind us? our state legislators more talented or more public spirited than member of congress? let's surprise those who say we can't. i know, we can. >> senator cain. >> fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. we, of this congress, and the administration will be remembered inspite of ourselves. those are the words of abraham lincoln in a memo to congress on
10:24 pm
december 1st, 1861. almost exactly 150 years ago. i want to emphasize and i think the comments this morning have been wonderful and put them together and you have the essence of a solution. but i want to emphasize this is a historic opportunity and responsibility the other day after a hearing i ran to an old history professor of mine i had hadn't seen in 45 years. an american history professor and said have we had a moment with level of unfunctionalty and chaos. he said of course. i was surprised he said that so quickly. i said when was it? he said the article of confederation. the period before the constitution, which provoked the framers to write the constitution was a period when government didn't work. we're in a similar period and that's why what we're doing here today is such an important and very heavy responsibility. the important of doing
10:25 pm
something, the best thing we can do for the economy is somehow the american people we can do it. we can work together and find a solution two third of the american economy is driven by consumer spending and consumer spending is driive by confidence. and confidence is instilled by the government being at least modestly functional. which it hasn't been recently. it doesn't have to be a comprehensive solution as chairman ryan and murray both said. it needs to be real. it needs to be significant. at least needs to take us through september 30th, 2014. my second disappoint the fiscal situation is serious. while presiding the over day i know we're not supposed to dour work. we learned that yesterday from the parliament. i couldn't dudes doolgding a bit what happened if interest rates went from 2% to 4%. which isn't unexpected in term of the public debt. it that's a case of a $17
10:26 pm
trillion debt. 4% would be $680 billion a year. which exceeds the defense budget and the intelligence budget combined. that is a dead hand that buys us nothing. no schools, no head start, no jet airplane, no defense, no nothing. interest on the debt exceeding the defense and intelligence budget combined. it crowds out everyone's priorities. conservatives and liberals alike it crowds out everyone's priorities. and in addition there's of course it's an immoral burden with on our children. but i want to relay one additional thought on that front. when i was governor, one of the ritual was to go to new york every year and kiss the rating agency and hope for a good bond rate forking the state. i was doing it one year talking about how prudent we were in maine and how we didn't spend much. we had low per capita debt and the debt was paid off in ten
10:27 pm
years and we were careful with the expenditure. one of the analyst stopped me and said, governor, i want to remind you that not fixing your infrastructure is debt. it's debt just the same as debt that is on the books. and you're incidenting on maintaining the infrastructure, you are building up debt for your children and grandchildren just as if you're borrowing money money. i think that's an important item to remember. the other thing is that we have seen the charts today that show exploding federal expenditure. it's all health care expenditure. that's what is driving the debt. it's not head start. t not pell grant. t not the department of defense. it's not the cia. it's health care expenditure in medicare, medicaid, federal pensions, veteran's health benefit, that's driving the deficit. that's what we need to be talking about. and we're making a grave mistake if we cut those kinds of programs whether it's on the defense side or the domestic
10:28 pm
side because health care, like the interest on the debt, is going crowd everything else out. so what do we have to do? we have to deal with this debt problem, which i have acknowledged is very important. we have to do it in a way that doesn't comprise the economy. we have do it in a way that is gradual and thoughtful and credible. but not all at once. we have saying in maine that a president out of the woods is usually as wrong as the path in. it's taken us about 15 to 20 holes to in this. we're not getting out in the next two three years. we have to have a credible plan that doesn't comprise the economy and economic growth that everybody talked about as the best way to solve this problem. it will build confidence, it lower deficits, and make the necessary investments. i'm not going it talk about tax expenditure, with but they are expenditures. both sides agree in both budgets
10:29 pm
we mine the tax expenditure. the only question is what do we do with this them? the house budget they used to lower rates and the senate used to lower deficit. i think there's a comprise to be found there. the rubicon of getting new money from tax expenditure has been crossed by all -- parties. let talk about how those tax expenditures are allocated. finally, back to president lincoln. cease 1st, 1862. he talk about thousand dollar change with deal and problem and clear our mind and think creatively. it's the best phrase i have ever encountered about how it deal with change. here's what he said, the dogma of the quiet path -- past are inadequate to the stormy present. out indication is piled high with difficulty. therefore, we must u rise with the occasion. as our case is new, so we we
10:30 pm
must u think anu and act anu. we must disenair traffic control ourselves and then we shall save our country. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you. >>. >> i want to thank everybody for attend the meeting. that was a -- good closing. i love that speech from lincoln. i think we've had a good discussion. i think from both sides of the aisle we see sciences of common ground. that's a great start. our next legislative schedules session schedule don't overlap until november 13th. that's when we reconvene at 10:00 a.m. with that we consult on the next step beyond that. and at this time, -- do you care to make a statement. >> i want to thank our member for a thoughtful statement today. i think we have a good committee
10:31 pm
here and look forward to working you as set in place the prosexual appealses as we move forward. thank you to everybody. thank you. the meeting stands adjourned. [inaudible conversations]
10:32 pm
budget con free were meeting house minority leader nancy pelosi said she believes a budget deal can be reached soon. today happifully, after finally the budget committee -- the budget conference committee will meet after 220 days of obstruction and delay and 16 days of a government shut down we finally house and senate democrats and republicans are going to the table. it's long been clear that the republicans reckless and irresponsible agenda is a luxury the american people can no longer afford. the shut down cost, as we referenced before, according to standard and pores $24 billion to our economy according to the nonpartisan cbo next year across the board sequester cuts can result in as lo of 800,000 jobs.
10:33 pm
the ryan republican budget cuts medicare benefits by giving another tax break to millionaires. these manufacturered crisis and back ward priorities weaken our economy and cost hundreds and thousand of job and put a greater burden on america's middle class. it comes downtown middle class. it's time to invest and not undermine our future. the american people expect both parties, democrats and republicans, to work toward reasonable solutions and address america's priority that serve our country best's breasts. we democrats are committed to reaching across the i'm to find common sense solutions but the republicans must be willing to comprise too and drop their refusal to consider cutting wasteful tax loophole and not bringing revenue to the table. we, democrats, are committed to creating jobs, expanding the
10:34 pm
economy, reducing the deficit, while we end the sequester. we are committed to replacing the most damaging of the automatic cuts by cutting spending on wasteful special interests subsidize, closing tax loophole so we can ensure corporations and the wealthy are paying their fair share. i believe we should be able to reach a budget agreement by thank giving. i think this is really important for our economy. i hope today's open hearing is the first of many of the airings of the budget debate that transparency is essential to a fair agreement. you're watching c-span2 with politic and public affairs weekdays featuring live coverage of the u.s. senate. on weeknight watch key public policy event and every weekend the latest authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs and get our our schedule owrn website.
10:35 pm
you can join in the conversation on social media sites. the health and human services secretary testified on capitol hill wednesday about implementing the health care law. and the problems with the website to sign up for health insurance. you can see the entire event online at here is a little of the hearing. i want to go to the cost of thek website and talk about the a website inspect is what is happening right now with this cl website. we've had somebody in the backet trying to sign on. weite.down. e. is not working.bsit last week i asked for the cost s from each of the contractors that were with us last week.wor. so can you give me a ballpark of fr what you have spent on this website that does not work thatc individuals cannot get to? what is your cost estimate? cant >> so far, congresswoman, we
10:36 pm
have spent about $11 million on, the website i.t. and about $56 million has been expended onsite other i.t. to support the webb. miion has would you snit a detailed on accounting of exactly what hasw. >> been spent and what did you and tifect constituents to stop getting these kind of erroras messages?nt and >> again, i was with the -- do talked to the president ofing to mees?zen over the weekend on two occasions.>> prezon hosted the cloud which is not pasirt of the website. it's a host for a number ofocc >> right. >> the verizon system was taken down saturday night in to sunday theh down almost all day sunday. they had an additional problem m they notified us about yesterda and it continues on. down a so i would be happy to talk to the president of verizon and ges him -- yesterd >>ay okay let -- >> let me come back to that.ld h i want to get toap this issue of exactly who is in charge of this
10:37 pm
project. because you're now blaming it oo the contractors and saying it's verizon's fault. in blaminite ask you this. did you ever look at outsourcing the role of the system integrator and obviously you cannot from the contractors youe had last week. they had several different people whether it was you or gary or michelle schneider or henry they thought were inferen charge. it s you so who is responsible for chge.eeing this project? you or your december snow? >> i'm not pointing fingers. i'm trying to explain the way ie operate. i' own the site.rizon. the site has had serious the problems. person now in charge isarge, qssi one. >> who was in charge as it was being built? >> was in charge i'm
10:38 pm
responsible. i yield back. in a few moments congressional negotiators meet to begin working out differences between the house and senate version of the farm bill. after that reair the budget conference committee first public meeting. later discussion of the hunt for a mole at the fbi. on the next "washington journal".
10:39 pm
washington jownl is live every morning starting at 7:00 a.m. on chiropractic span. a couple of live events to tell you about tomorrow morning. the senate homeland security committee exam the shooting at the washington navy yard at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. at 10:15 the senate foreign relations committee look at the syria situation. author and astrophysicist on mesh's call for scientist and engineers. >> as nasa's future goes so too does that of america. if nasa is healthy, then you don't need a program to convince people science and engineering is good to do. they'll see on the paper. they'll be called for engineers to help us go ice fishing where
10:40 pm
there's an ocean of water liquid for billions of years. we're going dig through the soil of mars and look for life. that would give me the best biologists. all the stem field. science technology, engineering, and math represented in the nasa port follow you. a healthy nasa pokes that. t a fly wheel that society caps for innovations. >> over the past 15 years booktv aired over 240urbgs program about non-fiction books and authors. booktv ere weekend on c-span2. now the first public meeting of con grexal conn free on the farm bill. one of the major differences in the two version of the bill
10:41 pm
concern food stamp spend. the senate bill cuts $4 billion over ten years. the house version cut $40 billion. [inaudible conversations] the good afternoon. it's ban long time in coming, but we are here. it's wonderful to have thewell, opportunity to have all of us nere today together.comi i was thinking, mr. chairman,wv that when youe and i started our i was thinking, mr. chairman, that when you and i started, i remember when i came into the house, we were kind of at the low end of the totem pole on the agriculture committees. and now we both have the honors of working together. and it really is an honor to work with you as we bring this final farm bill home. and that's what we're all doing. this has been a wonderful process with our four agricultural leaders, with ranking member peterson, with ranking member cochran, and our
10:42 pm
first farm bill to pass the senate with ranking member pat roberts. we have had a very important, and i think, precedent setting opportunity to show how to govern. and we also have been working together for three years in a bipartisan way to reform and streamline agricultural policies that work were families and farmers and taxpayers going back to the super committee. i just have to say one more time that we're very proud of the fact that during that process we were the only committee that came together, the leaders in a bipartisan, bicameral that time working together ever since. so it's my honor to move on behalf of the senate that the distinguished gentleman from oklahoma, chairman frank lucas, be designated as chairman of the conference. if there is no objection -- there is a second. so ordered. mr. chairman. >> thank you, madan senate chairman. i think that's a good way to
10:43 pm
start the day, as a unanimous consent motion. most assuredly, you're exactly right. we're very fortunate to be at this table, to have an opportunity not only to try and move agricultural policy forward in this great nation, but to make sure that the tools are there for our farmers and ranchers, to make sure the safety net is there for farmers, ranchers, and consumers in this country and around the planet. you alluded a moment ago to the opportunity to work together with some very wonderful people at this table. rarely do you get the chance to work in this fashion as you and i have with the very people who were our mentors when we arrived and who are our partners now as we craft this policy together. i would just say to all my colleagues, i know that we face some daunting challenges, that
10:44 pm
we are working in a very complicated environment to craft a very technical bill that touches so many important parts of our society, of our economy, and of this country as a whole. and i know that there are many different perspectives on social policy, on agricultural production policy, but i'm confident that the spirit that's been demonstrated in achieving this point, passage of both bills out of the house and senate, committees and across the floor, that we can accomplish that. and i would be most remiss if i didn't note the special appreciation i have for my ranking member and my friend, i believe, colin peterson, as well as all of my friends at this table and most assuredly on the other side of this table.
10:45 pm
i take this responsibility that we have together to accomplish this important goal very seriously. i live in a part of the country where between mother nature and federal policy on two, almost three occasions in this last century, my folks saw their way of life nearly completely destroyed. i know that we cannot persuade mother nature necessarily on any given day to do things differently, but we can provide the tools that enable our producers back home to withstand both the forces of nature that perhaps they have no control over on any given day as well as the markets and the advance of technology and international trade and all of those things that together affect us. if the droughts in the midwest last year wasn't a clear enough
10:46 pm
reminder about the tools that are necessary when it comes to agricultural production, then most assuredly the blizzard of not many weeks ago that wreaked such havoc across the dakotas stand as a solemn reminder. and also not just on the side of the chart where we help make sure there's enough food and fiber, but on the side that reflects the struggles that many of our fellow citizens have meeting their needs every day as consumers. the nutrition title is a very important part of the national safety net and how we address all of those components most assuredly will affect the lives of literally millions and millions of people across the country. so i would say this to my friends all around this table. it took us years to get here,
10:47 pm
but we are here. it may take days and weeks, perhaps, to finish crafting what we'll call the 2013 farm bill in popular discussion at the coffee shops, but we can do it. we have to do it. we have a responsibility to do it. with that, let me simply say to my colleagues, let's not take years to get it done. i now recognize the distinguished gentlewoman from michigan, the honorable chairman of the senate committee on agricultural, nutrition, and forestry, for her comments. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in a congress that's too often divided, it's refreshing we're able to come together in agriculture, work across the aisle and accomplish real reforms. we have an incredible opportunity with this conference committee to finally get this five-year farm bill done. i agree with the chairman.
10:48 pm
working together, we will get it done. and we'll be able to demonstrate to colleagues in both chambers that we can really govern together, which i think is so important. in june the senate passed a farm bill with an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority of 66 votes. and i want to thank my ranking member, distinguished senator from mississippi, senator cochran, for his leadership and his friendship. our bill represents the biggest reforms to agricultural policy in decades. along with the house, it ends direct payments. we tighten payment limits, modernize dairy policy, stop people who aren't actively engaged in farming from getting taxpayer subsidies. the senate agrees with the house that our focus should be on strengthening and reforming crop insurance. we've heard from the beginning that risk management was the key priority for our farmers and our ranchers all across the country.
10:49 pm
in our bill, we flex that by expanding comp insurance to coverer more farmers and more kinds of crops. we also agree with the house that it's important to have an effective permanent livestock disaster assistance program the chairman referred to. between the droughts after last year and the early snowstorms in had the dakotas, we have seen the importance of having the disaster assistance in place. as the senate has made these reforms, one of our top priorities has been to reduce market distortions. designing agricultural policies that are risk based, market based will be a critical goal in our final negotiations. we also worked hard to make sure the senate bill would not be trade distorting while promoting u.s. agricultural exports that our producers all rely on. as we make this shift to risk management policies, it's very important that farmers and ranchers continue to do the
10:50 pm
things that make them the best stewards of our land and our water resources by reconnecting conservation compliance to our now-strengthened crop insurance program. we protect the future of agriculture for our children and grandchildren. we must also save fragile grasslands from destruction with the national sod saver program that protects these lands skaps and habitats while keeping management decisions with our farmers and our ranchers. the good news in the conservation title is both the senate and the house have similar reforms that will strengthen our partnerships with farmers to protect our natural resources for future generati s generations. i'm pleased to see that both the senate and the house have a strong specialty crop and horticulture title, supporting specialty crop, organic, and local food production because we know that 47% of the total crop value in agriculture comes from specialty crops alone.
10:51 pm
the senate bill helps create new jobs through a robust energy title. this title helps our country be more energy independent, saves farmers money and helps consumers at the pump. this is a win, win, win for rural communities and america's future. for our farmers, crop insurance is a lifeline when disaster strikes. for american families, s.n.a.p. provides a lifeline when they face family economic disasters. we worked hard in the senate, mr. chairman, as you know, to make real reforms to save money on food assistance. we cracked down on fraud and misuse to make sure that every single dollar goes to families that need it. and that's the approach we will need to take to achieve bipartisan support to get a final farm bill. it's also critical to note that this friday, $11 billion in cuts to families will take effect
10:52 pm
across the country. for those getting food help, and that means every child, every senior citizen, every disabled veteran, every person who's lost their job will have a more difficult time putting food on their tables. also, that $11 billion, plus the $4 billion in cuts in the senate bill, mean that accepting this senate nutrition title would result in a total of $15 billion in cuts in nutrition. the good news is the cbo projects that over 14 million people will no longer need temporary food help over the next few years because the economy's improving and they're going to be able to get back to work. while there are many areas that are similar between our two bills, there are of course other differences, one i will mention. one area of great concern is the provision that would override state government's constitutional authorities on a wide range of issues, including animal welfare, milk standards, labeling of artificial
10:53 pm
sweeteners and invasive pests, just to name a few. mr. chairman, i am very pleased to be here with you in this conference committee, where i am confident we can work through these difficult issues and we can come together, make tough choices, set priorities, and find common ground. there are 16 million men and women whose jobs rely on the strength of agriculture. they're counting on us to work together in good faith, get the farm bill done, and i'm confident we won't let them down. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, madan chairwoman. the chair now turns to the gentleman from minnesota, the ranking member of the house ag committee, mr. peterson. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your leadership and hard work in getting us to this point. you've done an excellent job. senator stabenow over in the senate, senator cochran for his good work and senator roberts in the previous congress.
10:54 pm
we've been -- so i think like everybody i'm glad to be here. i'm going to try to exert some leadership and be brief. we'll see how that goes. anyway, you know, we're hopefully at the beginning of the end of this process. you know, we first started this almost four years ago when i was chairman. i probably got started earlier than i should have. but this has been going on too long, and i think i speak for all of us in saying that it's long past time to finish this farm bill. the difference between the house and senate farm bills, they span all titles and programs, conservation, dairy, crop insurance, even permanent law. they all need to be addressed. resolving these issues obviously poses a challenge, but i know that our respective agriculture committee members have the background and the experience to develop sound farm bill policies. i believe that if the conference
10:55 pm
committee is left alone and allowed to do our work, we'll be able to find some middle ground and finish the farm bill. i think we've got a good group of conferees and everybody is committed to finishing the job. we've been working on this bill for so long that i think we're actually at the point where most of the staff work has been done. really, it's time for the members now to start making the compromises necessary to put this bill together so that it can be defended and clearly explained to our colleagues and the general public. it's time to put together a bill that can pass both the house and the senate and be signed by the president. so with that, i'm not going to go into all of the issues. i think they've been covered to some extent already. and anybody that's paying attention has heard more out of me in the last four years than they want to hear anyway, so i don't need to say it again. so i just hope that we can find
10:56 pm
the way to move forward, get these things worked out and get this resolved as soon as possible. with that, i yield back. >> gentleman yields back. the chair now recognizes the ranking member of senate agricultural committee, the gentleman from mississippi, senator cochran. >> mr. chairman, i'm pleased to join our chairwoman and other members of the senate delegation in thanking you for the efforts you're making to impress us with the decor and the space that we have here in the house of representatives. it brings back a lot of good memories for me and i know the others who may have served here in the house of representatives. but we know we have a serious responsibility today, and that is to begin an effort to get a fair and workable farm bill reported back to our two bodies.
10:57 pm
we hope we can do that recognizing the urgency in some of these areas where questions need to be answered in order for farmers to make decisions and others who are affected by this law. so you have our commitment to try to be a positive influence in this process. we thank you for your courtesies. >> gentleman yields back. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from iowa, mr. king. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm very happy to be here today as we formally kick off the conference committee process in this 2013 farm bill. it's been a long and a sometimes bumpy road to get to this place. and i want to thank the chairs and the ranking members for their diligent work and determination to get us to this point today. chairman lucas and ranking member peterson have both been strong leaders throughout this process. i'm grateful to them and grateful to the members of this committee, especially grateful to the staff, for the staff, which has done so much work behind the scenes.
10:58 pm
as we begin the conference process, i hope we can work together across the aisle to resolve the many issues critical to our farmers and ranchers around the country. it's time for congress to give our producers the predictability that they deserve. we need to do that by passing a five-year farm bill as soon as possible. i'm honored to represent one of the most productive agricultural districts in america as we work towards that end. i entered into this process in 2012 with several priorities. many of them are in the underlying bill. i will be doing as much as i can to nurture this process forward for those and many other reasons. i appreciate the work that's been done on these bills, especially to maintain the role of federal crop insurance as our producers' safety net. it has become an improvement to become more reliable for producers and ad hoc disaster programs. we'll reduce much of the political maneuvering through crop insurance and increase the
10:59 pm
coverage and allow our producers to share the risk. another issue ts it's important that we provide incentivers for farmers to continue to be good stewart of the land. it's been a lot of my life's work. i've been pleased to put together stong title of two programs. i'll be anxious to see how it plays out in the conference. one issue at forefront of people's miebdz is a nutrition tight. as the chair of the department operations nutrition subcommittee. i'll continue to work with my colleagues to implement reform in the s.n.a.p. program to cut back on waste, fraud, and abuse in the program to ensure that those funds are available to those who are needy. the cost of s.n.a.p. is more than doubled from 2008 to 2012 as have the enrollee gone from 28.12 million up to 47.7 million. and interested in encouraged by the news i've heard from the chair from the senate side on this information.
11:00 pm
..he senate side on this information. but finally, i'd add that an amendment that i added to the farm bill will remain one of my top priorities moving forward. it was accepted by a voice vote in both the 2012 and the 2013 markup. this amendment is found in section 11312 of hr-2642. it's a simple and straightforward amendment. i developed it on the premise of having recognize that the commerce clause in the constitution prohibits trade protection between the states. it became relevant, though, after california passed a law in 2010 that mandates that beginning 2015 no eggs be brought into or sold in the state unless they are laid by hens housed in facilities that effectively are double the infrastructure cost to our producers. i will go deeper into this amendment as we discuss this, but the bottom line of it is that no state should be allowed to regulate the production in other states, any state,
11:01 pm
including california, is free to regulate, even overregulate their producers but not to regulate the other 49 states. that's a topic that i'm confident we will discuss. but mr. chairman, i'm anxious to begin this process and i'm looking forward to working with my colleagues to finish our work on this bill. i went to the president's desk before the snow flies. i realize i'm a little late in >> the chair takes note that this was one of a couple senators there that i learn a great deal about the work from in the 2002 farm bill conference, my first experience seeing how it was done. the chair recognizes the gentleman from jersey, senator leahy. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i was thinking, as you were speaking earlier, and chairman speaking how fortunate we are to have two of you as chairs and the two ranking members you have with senator kin and the work
11:02 pm
with senator cochran, he and i served together for decades. we both were chairs, ranking members of the agriculture committee, and we served on seven farm bill conferences in 1981 #, and i can assure you the scars, but having people with experience with the two chairs here and ranking members here helps a lot, and there's been 13 months since the last expired, and they tell me every day how imperative it is to overcome the differences. it's a hopinger bill, reform bill, innovation bill, deficit reduction bill and a job creation bill. we passed a bipartisan bill twice in the senate, had the republicans and democrats, each had to give some, but we didn't, and we assured the farmers,
11:03 pm
rural communities, alleviate hunger, reform commodity programs, creates jobs, and saves taxpayers $24 billion. not bad. on dairy, farmers support the margin, and one that has to work in tandem with the market stabilization program. i hear this from the kitchen tables to the high school gymnasiums in my -- in the farm areas, agriculture areas of my state. we've done that. farmers remember the dairy crisis of 2009. they know an insurance program alone is not enough. we don't have stabilization, we cause taxpayers additional dollars, guarantee another crisis, puts people out of business. there's a number of other things we put in the record. we have to have strong nutrition programs. i worked with, and people think
11:04 pm
of mcgovern coming together in the past to do that. as chairman of the senate judiciary committee, i believe nothing in the bill should limit the authority of the secretary to protect our farmers from deceptive business practices. we need certainty. we have to have in this. we can do it. you got the leaders. you got the men and women at the table of both parties who can do it if we wanted to. i hope we will. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you for your kind words. >> the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the gentleman from north carolina. >> thank you, mr. chairman. we all know the road to this farm bill conference has been long, and i know we're glad this day is here, and i want to thank the leadership from both the house and senate for your hard work and consistency in bringing us to the point, and the farm bill is critical to my home state of north carolina as agriculture business is the number one industry as it has been since colonial days.
11:05 pm
in fact, employing one out of every five in north carolina. for decades, this congress worked in a bipartisan fashion to craft bills to protect and strengthen the farmers, rural economic development, and provide nutritional support we need for the most vulnerable in the society. i do look forward to us moving this to cop collusion, having a strong reform fiscally responsible bipartisan bill to pass and do it as soon as possible. we're all tired of waiting. we witnessed the harsh effects of the expired farm bill weeks ago with the unexpected winter storm that devastated the livestock industry in the midwest. this concern shows the importance of passing a 3weu8 and doing it soon to give certainty and security for the producers because we know disasters can happen any time, anywhere. rural develop is something we have seen make a difference. 85 of the 1 is 00 counties fall under the opportunity for the programs, and that means not only helping our farmers, but
11:06 pm
economic development and jobs in rural america. waste water projects that all commissioners come to us to talk about, broadband, it means the fire, law enforcement, and emergency services that our communities need desperately, and it means support for small business. for all those listening and watching, this is about economic opportunity here in the united states in making sure our rural areas are not forgotten. i hope we can take care of the situation with the rule. i know it's been a concern that we want to stay consistent with the president set by congress, and we want to make sure we have a legislative solution that modifies the mandatory country of origin in a way that justifies the wto trade b -- obligations and prevent trade retaliation against u.s. exports this could cause harm and find a fix to provide sufficient label information to consumers while fulfilling our commitments to our trading partners. we also know that increasingly states across the country made
11:07 pm
it harder for livestock producers to sell their products all across the u.s. and the world by limiting the types of restrictions states place on producers from other states, the farm bill ensures that farmers sell products across the u.s., stay in business, and employee folks in our rural communities. i look forward to working with all of you, my colleague, and i know this is time to show the nation we can work together and make a difference, and by god's grace and your commitment to do so, we will, and we'll get it done in a timely fashion. thank you, mr. chairman. >> the gentleman yields back. the chair has a particularly distinct honor and privilege of not only recognizing his neighbor, original mental, and the fellow who will always be a leader to him, the senator from kansas, senator roberts. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i appreciate that very much.
11:08 pm
ranking member, ranking member peterson, all my other colleagues, it is a privilege to be with you here today to begin this farm bill conference committee. excuse me. we've worked hard to get to this point, the understatement of my statement, and we have already made significant strides in achieving necessary reforms. for example, both bills do eliminate direct payments and our commodity and disaster programs like acre ensure. we have heard consistently from producers in all regions, from an arbor, michigan to wichita, kansas that crop insurance is their number one priority. our producers are willing to put their own skin in the game to protect themselves from disaster. the full house of representatives in the senate made the commitment through the coverage option that other provisions that crop insurance is the most responsible farm
11:09 pm
safety net for farmers and the taxpayer; however, i have concerns with senate provisions necessarily duplicate regulation on farmers' practices and restrict our producers' coverage. for ranchers and livestock producers, i'm pleased they extend the programs from the 2008 farm bill including the livestock program and the livestock 4h program. i appreciate the house addressing burdensome regulations we worked on in the senate including pesticides, farm fuel tank storage, the lesser prairie chicken, and mandatory control of origin and labeling. regarding nutrition in the snap program, the house passed similar reforms to legislation that i offered to have eligibility standards, close state loopholes, and end wasteful and duplicated programs
11:10 pm
without harming benefits to those who need the most assistance. finally, i have significant concerns regarding two proposed commodity titles. the 2010 farm bill contained real reform. we ended federal subsidies that encouraged farmers to plant for the government. ie target price programs. this year's version created a new market payment, the program tied to historic base acres. the house price loss coverage, the poc program, went further backwards in my view and recoupled production to plant acres and sets high fixed target prices. a modern farm bill should not create planting, marketing, or international trade distrorgses. target prices should be decoupled, and the government should not set prices at a level that guarantees profit instead
11:11 pm
of acting as a management tool. not to mention inviting serious problems with a wto complaint. let me assure you the wto stove is hot. in closing, we are around the table for a reason. i'm here and committed to resolve differences in order to provide certainty to our producers and a forward thinking farm bill responsible to farmers, ranchers, lenders, consumers, as well as taxpayers across the country. thank you so much to the leadership of both committees, the producers who have participated in all of our hearings and meetings, and all the members here for working to advance agriculture. i'm reminded of the remarks of the distinguished chairman, the sometimes powerful ag committee who always said we strive to get the best possible bill, and the end result, we get the best bill
11:12 pm
possible. the distinguished chairman of the house committee said we have to do it. it's our responsibility to do it. it is my view, and also the view of our ranking member in the house, colin peterson, we're going to lose credibility if we don't get the bill done. we have to get the bill done. thank you very much. >> the gentleman yields back his time. the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas. >> well, thank you issue mr. chairman, for chairing the conference committee and thank you for extensive preparation you put in to bring us to the point to get a new farm bill. over the past two years, we closely examined each of the programs to determine what was working and what needed reformed. this process helped us achieve a smart bill for producers, consumerrers, and taxpayers. the house bill achieves significant savings, 60 billion over ten years, which makes a genuine contribution to
11:13 pm
reforming washington's out of control spending. my parties for the bill are simple. we need a long term policy in place so that our farmers and ranchers can make informed business decisions. we need to make a market based policies that are responsive to fluxuations in production and price without dictating what we produce. we need an efficient program that make good use of the taxpayers' dollars. the divide between production programs and nutrition programs is well documented over the past few months, but i think our goal to both issues is the same. to maintain a strong safety net. to help people through tough times, and to help people spring back on to their feet. in farm programs, we move away from direct payments to programs grounded in the market, strengthen partnerships, and share risk programs like crop insurance. i'm proud my crop insurance proposal included in the house and senate legislation. shallow loss coverage allows producers to pool risk and assure themselves against
11:14 pm
smaller losses that could over time put them at out of business. we also moved to a revenue insurance program for dairy producers rather than attempting supply management. this is in line with the overall direction of the foreign policy in the house and senate bills towards a more market based support. it's important to me that we include that in the farm bill. i'm also hopeful we can move away from other market distorting programs. one of the key issues of this conference must be addressed, country of origin labeling or cool. mandatory government run labeling program is not only trade distorting, but does not demonstrate real benefits. i'm confident we can address differences, come together, and timize market based programs to support our farmers and ranchers. we are far apart, and why does the safety net need reform? because people are getting tangled up and stuck in it. the house addresses this by ending benefits for individuals that, quite honestly, do not qualify for them, allowing us to
11:15 pm
save billions of dollars without cuts assistance to the families in need. this is not weakening nutrition assistance. rather it's about making the program sustainable over the long term. this is a goal i think we can agree on. i'm looking forward to working together on the shared # goals and resolving our differences and confident that we can finalize an efficient, effective farm bill to serve the best interest for consumers, producers, and taxpayers. >> i thank the gentleman for yielding back. the chair recognizes another esteemed yes maven who he learned much from, the gentleman from iowa, mr. harkin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it's a pleasure to be with you again. we've been through farm bills together. this is the way we should work. get together in conference committees and work these things out. this is my eighth farm bill i worked on, twice as chairman in 2002 when dick lugar was the
11:16 pm
ranking member, and on the house side, larry from texas, and charlie were chair and ranking member, and we got a farm bill in 2002. the senate was democratic, house was republican, and we had a republican president. we got a farm bill done. in 2008, i was chairman, and we did the 2008 farm bill, and at that time, my good friend was my ranking member, and on the house side, it was colin peterson and bob goodlatte were the chair and ranking members in. there was long conferences that drug on and on and on. i know you were there, mr. chairman, for those, but we got the work done, and i take what was vade earlier to heart. you know, these things are long. we get involved, but if we are left alone, we can go our job, and we can reach the agreements that are needed, and as you
11:17 pm
said, we have to always keep in mind when we hammer out our agreements, the farm bill is lawless passed by and signed by the president. we have to keep that in mind. i'm proud of the fact we did that twice in the senate, a bipartisan farm bill that passed in 2012 and came back and passed it again in 2013. i might point out in the 2008 farm bill, we had it vetoed twice and had to override the veto twice. that was bipartisan. it was not a partisan effort at all. just a couple thoughts on this bill. you know, we have asked our farmers in the country to produce more and more and more. they responded. as we produce more, we see more and more of our soil going down the rivers. it used to be when we did conservation programs, it was to pay someone to take land out of production, crp, things like
11:18 pm
that. as we begin to produce more, we became very much aware of the fact we needed conservation on working lands. our livestock producers were producing more this terms of livestock. we had the wrp, equip, significantly over subscribed, twice as many seek to ajoin the csp program as we are able to get in. i hope we keep the focus on the fact we need conservation on working lands. energy title. we put that first in the 2002 farm bill, improved and strengthened it in 2008, and it's critical i believe to maintain the 880 million in mandatory funding we put in the senate is crucial for our rural areas, small communities, that build their own energy systems. conservation, i mentioned on working lands, but also for lack
11:19 pm
of what everyone calls conservation compliance, the fact is the vast majority already do that, so are we going to say to the few that might be bad actors you can still get insurance and stuff and not do what the vast majority already do on their open? i'm hopeful then that we can adopt the programs that we have. as i said, most farmers are doing that already themselves. they shouldn't be put in with maybe but a few bad actors that are out there. the commodity programs, i echo what's said to be careful to minimize government programs on farmers' decisions on what they grow and how much they grow. that ought to be their decision based on the productivity of the land, what's suitable, what the market demands, and not what the government poses. furthermore, i hope that we do not interfere with usda's good faith actions to carry out the
11:20 pm
actors, the stockyard agent in origin and labeling. lastly about food assistance, this has been a part of the farm bill since i started on it back in the 70s. we have always reached agreements on this. we have periodically, i remember long time ago working on fraud, waste, and abuse in food stamps, changing it around, modifying it, different times call for different circumstances. the fact is we have a lot of low income people out there, a lot of kids, a lot of people, and i just say this right now, you know, people say, well, there's a lot of single adults out there that ought to be working before they get food stamps and stuff like that. we learned a long time ago that there's a lot of people out there that have been deinstitutionalized that have mental health problems. they can do a little of work here and there, but they can't hold full-time jobs, and yet we have provided them -- we made
11:21 pm
the decision a long time ago to provide them with access to food; then they can work part-time, do part-time work, make some income at the same time even though you don't have a full-time job, you can still continue to get nutrition supplement programs. i hope we'll kind of keep that in mind. there's a lot of people out there like that that they don't qualify for disability, but they can't work full-time. they fall in a gray area, but we should also be cognizant of the fact if they have access to good food and nutrition, they are not crowding into our emergency rooms and things like that, so i just hope that we can reach some reasonable agreements on the nutrition program, meet our obligations to the consumers of america, and low income americans that have always looked to this committee, this committee to make sure that we don't have beggars on the
11:22 pm
streets and that people have access to affordable and nutritious food in the country. i think that's the least we can do as a great country. thank you, mr. chairman. >> gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california. >> thank you very much, chairman, and chairwoman, ranking member peterson, our staff, and, also, you, senator harkin, for reminding us of the history of how farm bills were put together over the eight farm bills you've been a part of. when we used to have conference committees on a regular basis. i think i speak for most of our colleagues here about today, it's about time. it's about time. we wanted to have this conference committee a year ago. took us a year to have a conference committee. it's been three years in the making. it's time for us to step up to
11:23 pm
the plate and demonstrate to the american public that we're capable of working together on a bipartisan basis. after all, that's why they send us here, to solve problems. we talk about the nutrition title. i believe it should and can be work out. rather than simply focusing attention on just cutting the program, i think common sense reforms. i think efforts by the committee and subcommittee's to go out around america and find out what's going on there would be a better way to deal with this on how we improve this title. we have the pilot program in the house bill that identifies best practices for employment and training programs. i think that pilot program can be used across the country to help move those people that we think can be moved from dependency to independence. next, it's imperative that we enact serious reforms to the dairy program. i represent a significant part of king valley. it has, perhaps, among the
11:24 pm
largest and more diverse agriculture in america. many of you have been there. i know. i've attended some of your events. it's a great part of america. i'm a third generation farmer. in the dairy business most of my family since we came to this country from the asors. we can no longer expect, i think, the american taxpayer to be on the hook for supporting dairy producers by maintaining the status quo, which is a program that i don't think simply adheres to the basic laws of supply and demand, and that's why it's critical we adopt the dairy security act which passed in the house committee twice and was passed by the senate. also of great importance for many of us in california is the removal of the vague and overly broad king amendments with all do respects which is clearly
11:25 pm
argumented of california producers. this amendment is not only anticalifornian, but if you think about it, it says one size fits all policy to be determined in washington. for those of you around to believe you're a federalist, this is antifederalism. it basically says that we know better than the states than to act on their own behalf, and therefore, i think we have to deal with that, that amendment. as consumers, increasingly turning to organic products throughout this country. i think the organic certification cost share program supports our producers and maintains the integrity of the industry in the united states. we need to continue to improve on that. additionally, in the 2008 farm bill, this is my second farm bill, we created some good work product for specialty crops. now, that's a technical term.
11:26 pm
we're talking about fruits and vegetables. we all love our fruits and vegetables. the environmental quality and equip and the conservation innovative grants program, these provide important tools to improve air quality and create greater water efficiencies and conservation. i support the senate version. i think it's the way we ought to go. i also want to urge my colleagues to preserve the grain inspection in packers and stockyard administration language referred to that representative mike conway and i offered and adopted. i think that will allow the poultry and livestock producers to no longer have to worry about losing marketing options which is very important. finally, i think we need to provide funding for a study to determine -- or we are providing funding for a study to determine the impact of what's controversy, the mandatory country of origin and label.
11:27 pm
i don't think we need a study. it's not working. it runs counter to the world trade organization, the wto, and our important trade partners both in cap dairy producers and mexico who -- canada and mexico who have obviously protested that program. we also, i need not remind all of us, have app agreement with canada and with mexico with nafta. this issue's an important one and needs and should be resolved in the conference committee discussion. finally, american consumers and the people who put the food on our table, those are our american farmers, ranchers, and dairy producers of which my family has been a part of for three generations. they expect us to work together. when i go home, that's what they tell me. the goal is to produce the most cost effective food in the world at the highest quality for american consumers and for the world, and nobody does it, nobody does it better than
11:28 pm
america's farmers, dairymen, and ranchers. this legislation has been stated before, has had had a history of bipartisanship. we should work in that spirit. we need to send signals to the market place that only a five year farm bill can provide. again, i want to strongly encourage my colleagues to leave our partisan politics at the door so we can work our differences out in this process. thank you, mr. chairman, thank you, madam chairwoman, and thank you, colleagues, for being a part of this conference committee. we do this so seldom. >> the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the gentleman from georgia. >> thank you, chairman, ranking members, i'm pleased to be here today to begin discussions on a comprehensive, sound five-year farm bill. it has been quite a journey over the past three year, and i know all the conferees are here to be
11:29 pm
ready to put this behind us and move forward. this is my fourth and time farm bill as a member of congress and former chairman and ranking member of the former agriculture committee, i know how difficult it is to combine diverse interests into a single piece of legislation that meets the needs of all crops, regions, and rural and urban communities that the farm bill impacts. both bills before us today have reforms, stream lining, and consolidation, and with the biggest issue in the country being our growing debt and deficit, i want to commend the leadership on both sides, both house and senate chairs and ranking members for stepping up and doing work necessary to find savings while we take these steps, we have to do this in an equitable and fair manner. it is important to note this bill must not only work to protect producers in times of need. it must responsibly serve as the
11:30 pm
nation's safety net for the nutritional well being of low income americans. . . low-income americans. our nutrition assistance programs play a key role in ensuring that needy americans have access to the food they need to lead healthy, productive lives. however, we must take this opportunity to assess the programs to find savings while still ensuring those in the greatest need are provided a helping hand. agriculture producers face a combination of challenges such as unpredictable weather, variable input costs, and market volatility that all combine to determine profit or loss in any given year. the 2008 farm bill provided a strong safety net for producers and successor legislation must adhere to and honor the same commitment we made five years ago. while i understand there are
11:31 pm
different ideas about what safety net is best, i urge my colleagues to recognize that one program does not work for all crops. both bills before us attempt to provide producers with options to find what works best for them, and that is certainly a step in the right direction. importantly, congress has taken a fresh look at our commodity programs while maintaining an effective safety net that is so critical to america's farmers. we should provide options to farmers while at the same time act as responsible stewards to the taxpayer. i've had this conversation with my colleague from kansas who spoke earlier, and i'm not saying anything that he hasn't heard me say before, but frankly, when we had the debate on the senate farm bill, there was general concurrence that the a.m.p. program complements crop insurance and crop insurance complements the a.m.p. program. when producers don't feel that the revenue-based programs or shallow loss programs work for
11:32 pm
them, they do need to be provided an option to manage their risk. i urge my fellow conferees to remember the importance of giving producers choices. also, i would like to recognize that the upland cotton policies contained in the senate and house versions embody fundamental reform that meet our commitments in the world trade organization. legislation eliminates or changes all title one programs providing direct support to those involved in cotton production and addresses head on and remedies the criticisms central to the wto dispute with brazil. in the end, i am confident that we can balance the needs and interests between commodities and regions to reach our common goal of getting a farm bill across the finish line. ultimately, the reason we are here is to represent those who work the land each and every day to provide the highest quality
11:33 pm
agriculture products of anybody in the world. it's important to the farmers and ranchers of georgia as well as to farmers and ranchers all across this great nation that we uphold the strength of the safety net that american agriculture depends on in this farm bill. we have the opportunity to write a bill that is equal to their commitment to provide the highest quality food, feed, and fiber in the world. mr. chairman, i have a much lengthier statement i'd ask unanimous consent to insert in the record. with that, i look forward to working with the conferees in the weeks ahead. >> so ordered. the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the gentleman from alabama. >> thank you. after five long years of waiting to get to this conference committee, i am very happy we're here to now try to resolve our differences between the house and senate farm bills. i'm also honored to be working with each one of you to try to craft a long-term piece of legislation to guide our nation's farmers and ranchers and give them the certitude they need. my home state is the home of
11:34 pm
over 48,000 farms, and we have over $1 billion in farm exports a year. so this is a pretty big deal to us. i'm honored they gave me an opportunity to be here and work on it. we strongly prefer to keep the usda food safety and inspection service catfish inspection program. in addition, the setting of target prices, which are vital to many alabama farmers. i also support giving the livestock industry relief from the troublesome mandatory country of origin labeling mandates. the negotiations we face will be tough, and i am certain that not any conferee is going to go home with everything they want. but it's important that we be responsible stewards of the taxpayers' dollars by maintaining the programs that are working and reforming those that don't. i believe we can work through these differences in a timely and bipartisan manner to achieve real results that will help our agriculture industry over the
11:35 pm
next five years. hopefully our efforts will demonstrate that congress can function on behalf of the greater good of our nation, and i look forward to working with each of you be. with that, i yield back. >> gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the gentleman from ohio, senator brown. >> i thank you very much, mr. chairman. i appreciate the leadership of senator stabenow, senator cochran and the doggedness of chairman lucas. the act of 2013 is a bipartisan reform bill that provides tangible and workable solutions that continue our commitment to the hungry, to rural communities and the land and saving taxpayers $24 billion. over the past two years, i've held a series of round tables, perhaps two dozen of them, in ohio where i've asked farmers to tell me what this year's farm bill should look like. ohio's farmers did more than give opinions. they came up with specific answers, gave me insight and guidance and valuable
11:36 pm
suggestions. they told me that they don't need and don't want direct payments, so i worked with my friend senator thune to improve the safety net and ensure farm production and planting decisions are determined by the market and not by the government program. simply put, ohio's corn and soybean farmers must have a program that decouples target prices from planted acres. that's why i strongly support the senate's commodity title. senate's rural development energy titles provide the mandatory funding and reforms needed to ensure that our nation's rural communities have the tools they need to succeed. the bill incorporates many portions of the local farms, food, and jobs act that will promote and increase local food production and sales. the bill also rightly links taxpayer support for crop insurance to farmers' land management practices and reduces premium support for those farmers who net over $750,000 per year. these are conservation practices
11:37 pm
that as senator harkin said most farmers are already doing. this is good bipartisan work. i expect we can resolve the differences around these farm programs. we always work these differences out in farm bills bipartisanly. what i'm most concerned about is whether the house -- that the house cuts to s.n.a.p. funding will prevent us from completing work on the farm bill that america's rural communities need. the house's indiscriminate s.n.a.p. cuts would harm literally millions of children and seniors and those with disabilities and many of those who hold low-income jobs and veterans. the house's provisions will cut s.n.a.p. payments simply because there aren't enough jobs out there. is that the kind of nation we are? are these the kinds of policies we need? is that what we stand for? our farmers feed the world. they're proud to do that. but the house is seeking to break a decade's old bond
11:38 pm
between farmers and those americans who are hungry. i look forward to working with my fellow conferees on a bill that follows the senate's title one reforms, that strengthens the farm safety net and that reaffirms this committee's long, bipartisan tradition of farm and food policy. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator yields back. the chair recognizes the gentleman from minnesota, mr. wallace. >> thank you, chairman and to our ranking members, to all my colleagues for getting us to this point. i'd like to thank the staffers who for years have also worked to bring this and make it possible. and to those stake holders. this is truly a unifying piece of legislation, always has been and will be again. i think listening to the chairwoman a unified conference with a unified bill will go at least a little ways toward bringing back some faith and restore the american public's faith that we can govern. and we are a people of vision. we're a people of big vision. we think big ideas. this farm bill doesn't have to be the exception to that. we can solve the things we need
11:39 pm
to solve, but i think we need to look down the road. this bill gives us that opportunity. we have to look at those programs that support economic promise, economic growth. one of those last year, renewable energies on track to average 8.3% growth. those represent tens of thousands of american jobs. we spend over $1 billion a day importing oil from countries that hate us. they'll hate us for free. keep those jobs in janesville, minnesota. keep it on the land where we have things going. in the energy title, the demand far outstrips the supply. we have thousands of people waiting. when the market is fair and open, our producers are trying to access that. they're trying to do that. and so i encourage my colleagues to look what our colleagues in the senate did and get mandatory funding to this. it will come back to us economically. it will come back to us in jobs and national security. we also have to look long term in demographics. 9 billion people on the planet
11:40 pm
soon. that's a 60% increase in food that we need to have. the american farmer averages 57 years old. the average web producer is a little under 35. you can't eat websites. we've got folks that are coming that are going to have to do that. our policies make a difference on who's on the land. so i encourage my colleagues in both the house and the senate we have robust beginning farmer and rancher legislation that focuses on education and building the capacity for the future. it also does some smart things to have set asides in some of these programs to make sure a new person on the land can access those things. i would certainly encourage us to come together. we're very close on that. keep those programs in there. once again, that builds our capacity for the future. in looking at capacity for the future, the land is our truly great resource. our producers are some of the best stewards of the land. but just like in all other things, we need to give them the tools they need to preserve that
11:41 pm
land. we need to make sure that conservation title is fully funded and we look visionary on those working lands to make sure we're not making the choices for those producers. they have the right to make the choice that works best for them. but make it both economically smart and people have proven they will take advantage of that. i would like to compliment my colleague from south dakota, who has worked with us on sod saver legislation that i think is visionary on lands that haven't been broken yet. save $200 million. and also let us look at a whole other side industry on the land. outdoorsmen, hunters, fishermen, people who take advantage of that. it's a $3.5 billion industry in minnesota alone. we can come to compromises. we can have vision. we can think big. we can compromise. we can clothe the world. and we can fuel the world if we get our work done here. i would agree with my colleagues on this. we have no choice but to get this right. we have no choice but to come together. the good news is once we do it, the producers will do what they do best, feed, clothe, and fuel the world. i yield back. >> gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the
11:42 pm
distinguished je nan from arkansas, senator bose man. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm sure that you're all as relieved as i am to be here today, beginning a conference process that will complete the work of a farm bill that will continue providing the american people with the safest, most affordable, most reliable food supply that the world has ever known. the path has not been easy, and we still have some differences to work out, but this is the work that must be done. rural america, our farmers, fa ranchers, forestry, stake holders, manufacturers, retailers and the most vulnerable members of our communities are counting on us to provide the five years of certainty they need to plan for the future. of equal importance the immaterial pact this legislation has on our economy. in arkansas, agriculture
11:43 pm
provided over $17 billion in value added to our state's economy in 2011. it makes up more than 16% of arkansas's gdp. arkansas's agriculture is diverse. and we are in the top 25 states of production in 24 different commodities including rice, honey, and corn for blueberries. our nation, as a whole, has even more diversity in crops with grow. whether it's cherries in michigan, wheat from the great plains, peanuts from oklahoma in georgia -- actually, you can get peanuts from arkansas now -- or dairy from minnesota. this diversity requires a day versz set of risk management tools that meet the challenges that all of our producers face for every crop and region. crop insurance is an important tool for our farmers to manage the risk, but it's not the only one.
11:44 pm
other tools must be responsive from shallow losses and cognizant of deep to invest in the future, enable the next generation to enter farming and to provide opportunities for our veterans to work the land. we need to make sure that our research and scientific infrastructure is strong to protect our families and crops from bacteria, weather and disease. we need to make sure that our programs protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities maintain integrity and the support of the public while meeting the needs of those that they're designed to serve. we started this process years ago. and looking back, our differences are much greater than they are today. congressman lucas and ranking
11:45 pm
member senator peterson as well committewe are m closh -6r7bg of the five-year reaut riization of our critical programs ensuring food security for the most vulnerable families. i know that we will succeed in our efforts and i look forward to working with all of you to resolve any differences that may remain in doing the work thatfa agriculturers so deserve. >> mr. conaway? >> thank you, mr. chairman. nchtsd . >> i also want to let everyone -- i appreciate my colleagues in both chambers who have worked so hard to get us to this point, particularly the chairman, who's been challenged like j,obe in the old testmente.
11:46 pm
first, we are running and accumulating -- we are running dangerous deaf sits or accumulating debt that will never get paid off. cutting the budget needs to be one of our highest priorities. both have worked on legislation that deals with this issue in a small way to reduce plant spending over the life of this farm bill. the trouble is, even if we do pass this farm bill with significant savings, we're a very small slice of a huge budget problem. i am hopeful that other committees in congress will be able to follow the lead that both agriculture committees have set and followed our example. second, we better not screw up crop insurance. crop insurance has already been reduced by some $17 billion in spending since 2008. for my money, that's enough. crop insurance is about all my cutting farmers have left.
11:47 pm
everyone insurance proposal has been cut during these negotiations. so that is a fool'ser rand. third, we need a very strong commodity title. we've gotten this far in the farm bill process with zero thanks to the groups we've recklessly obsessed during this issue. they also need to know that they both use plants and acres while capping them at different levels. why are both chambers taking this approach? because we're tired of paying people who are not even farming. both bills address this probably by letting farmers grow whatever they want.
11:48 pm
we want to plak sure that the farm bill benefit that follow that is decision. we know from the official economic analysis that congress relies on this approach results in infinitesimal effect on planning decisions. about one tenth of one percent. we know that every single option on the table is treated the same desz piet the ret ricket to the contrary. no option has any advantage over any other options. if price/loss ratios do not pay out, the shallow loss programs will then be the targeted programs by the wt or brazil or perhaps others. with all due respect, farmer's groups are building a case for wto challenge against our country's foreign policies are not exactly exercising the wisdom of solomen. i'm not so much concerned about the plant spending that will be reduced, as is getting policy that is promote work and dignity in this effort.
11:49 pm
the house bill would return a food stamp policy to work in order to self food stamp benefits. i recognize that perception sometimes trumps reality to this town. but i hope we can settle while asking people to work the return for food stamp programs is not any form of cruel or unusual punishment. the dignity of work has long been a common theme throughout all the ages. finally, throughout the conference, i'll be working to avoid facing undue regulatory burdens. rep zen tich costa is to finally put the gypsa debate to rest, which as we now understand being a pretty fouled experiment. i look forward to a success chl treatment of this farm bill as
11:50 pm
we move forward in the next five years. >> the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the gentle lady from minnesota. >> thank you very much. mr. chairman, i want to first thing our incredible chairman, senator stabinaw. she's just bringing us together. hundreds of votes on the senate floor. we did this the right way. chairman lucacsa, any friend of is a friend of mine. and, of course, representative peterson, when i first started running for the u.s. senate, i called representative peterson and asked if he'd sit down with me for half an hour. i drove four hours and he sat down with me for two hours and i had all of my charts and he finally just said put those away. all the farnlers want is a fair deal and stability and there's about 11 people in the country that really understand this and
11:51 pm
ten of them live in north dakota. i did that for you, hogan. and i quickly realized the other person was colin peterson. no matter where i go in our state, i'm always reminded of the critical role that agriculture plays on our economy. minnesota is number one in turkeys. we're excited about thanksgiving. we are number one in sweet corns and green peas and oats and we are number three in soybeans and number four in corn. we are also the home of some major agricultural committee that is care about this bill. co-ops like chs and land-o-lakes. so it malters to our entire state. being home last week, i think many of us learned that american people are sick and tired of people standing in the opposite corners of the boxing ring swinging punches.
11:52 pm
this is our opportunity to get something good out of the chaos to move forward and to do something good for the country. issues that i care about, first of all, something many people have raised, signed a bill in $24 billion in debt reduction. we see people that are not everyone from farm country looking at these bills. i think that's key. third, we have streamlined the conservation programs from 23 to 13. our numbers are very similar. i think that's important. representative walls and i introduced the senate that's in our bill that we're proud of. recognition of the importance of crop ininsurance to the program with the support of many groups, ingluding the narnl farmer's union, national corn growers. it was quite a group.
11:53 pm
and we look forward to working with the house on that. i know senator hogan will address some of the work we've done with conservation challenges like flooding. we also have limited dreblgt pachlts. we've formed the commodity program by strengtsenning some of the payment limits to make sure that the people eligible are farmers. not urban million theirs. and i and i also strongly support renewable energy as we look at our successful, reduced dependence on foreign oil. from 6 to-40%. there's something about biofuel
11:54 pm
that is have been very important to this change. the importance of the snap program. especially important is hard-working families and seniors still need to put food on the table. as you know, the senate needed much-needed reforms to the bill. we looked forward to working with you on this but i don't think is this is the time to make deep, deep cuts to the program. i'm just end with this, a call that i just got into my office over the weekend. and a guy named greg schwartz is a farmer down in lasora, minnesota. he was hard at work. he called from his combine. he left this message for us. we have been working on this farm bill for over two years now. we just want to get it done. farmers are working around the clock on this year's hashest. if you don't hear from us, it's not guilty because we don't care. it's wauz we have work to do. i think greg is right. i think the members of this
11:55 pm
committee have work to do. just as we have some deadlines coming in with the snows, we have a deadline. we want to get our bill done. we need to work as hard as those farmers and get something done for the people of this country. >> the gentle lady yields back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. madame chairwoman, i appreciate the opportunity to be part of this conference. i can state as a relatively new member who makes up a third of the house of representative these days. the way we worked together, the deference we showed one another and the respect we showed one another was emblematic when i became a member of congress. i'd like us to remember that.
11:56 pm
there's a lot of way to get divided here. we have agreed on a great many things. our senate colleagues and our house eluded to many of these. we're doing some modernization of forestry. there's a host of thicks that i think we can agree on. we should emphasize those. we both agree that insurance is the way to go there. there is some concern about it being an open-ended trough, taxpayer experience and i expect this group to deal well with this issue in a thoughtful way. >> we had the same discussion going on with some of our nutrition programs. to be honest, the $40 billion figure, it's not a real figure. i don't think there's any member of this conference. it really believes that's a legitimate number.
11:57 pm
again, i look toward a more robust discussion. i think that's something that we should be able to figure out and work on at the end of the day. and then there's the crop insurance piece. that's a legitimate difference of opinion coming from the pacific northwest. i'll let my southern and midwest colleagues battle that one out. but i will point out, there are two poison pills on the house side version that caused me great concern. it's no longer germane. it wasn't germane to start with. that's restricting states to deal with one another. it's not constitutional. it's a commerce clause issue. that's easily not the jurisdiction of the ag committee. restricting the ability of
11:58 pm
products to be sold is a road we do not want to go down. the other one came up on the floor of the house with the ability of people to get nutrition assistance whether it's food stamps or whatever, but at this point in time, when many, many millions of americans are still going hungry, as a result of the greatest recession, they've spent their savings, nay eve lost their home. this is not a time to make sure that these folks are discriminated gernsz at the end of the day. i really feel that's the area of a different jurisdiction. las point i'd make. if we don't get this job done here, i can guarantee you our leaderships would be glad to get this job done. they do not know what you know about nutrition. if we do not reach an agreement emphasizing what we agree on, not what we disagree on we will
11:59 pm
lose control of the farm bill. i really think the ranking members. advocate for our jurisdictions and let's get on with it, folks. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from north dakota. >> thank you, mr. chairman. very pleased to be a member of this conference committee. i want to begin by thanking you and ranking member peterson adds where he will as chairman stabinaw. i'd like to express my thanks for your hard work. the work we're doing here is very important on behalf of our farmer's and ranches, no question bt it. this is important work for our country. good foreign policy benefits
12:00 am
every single america. every american benefits. 16 million jobs, directly or indreblgtly, rely on ags culture and a positive balance of trade. this is absolutely the kind of work that we need to get done. we are general rating billions. when you combine that w a long-term farm bill, a five-year farm bill, you also generate economic growth. and that economic growth will not only help ri deuce the deficit as well, but it puts people to work: this is important work for all americans.


disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on